Tragedy in Blue

                

                The lights dazzled perfectly as they reflected off his suit. He was immaculately dressed and groomed and stood on the low stage as if he were more than a man, but a God I’ve never seen that could match his charm. This was his realm, filled with his creations, and he knew each of them better than a parent can know its child. And myself? I was simply a reporter, albeit a reporter whose readers spanned several light years. Today though, I was simply a reporter, here to witness the newest in the world of art. At center stage, the show began.

                “Ladies and Gentlemen, People of our Glorious Empire, I welcome you to this grand gala. I am Artist Extraordinaire Adonis and you are all here to experience a new level of artistic form, a new world of beauty. One created by myself.” He smiled at the assembled nobles and other art aficionados. They soaked it up. Adonis had always had this effect on people. Like fine liquor taken in large amounts, people could not help but see things his way when he spoke.

                “We have been traveling, as you all know, for more than an hour through the hyperspace tunnels to reach this, the grand stage of my performance.” Behind Adonis and all around the great ballroom screens came to life. They showed the system the ship had stopped in from various vantage points. There were many showing different planets, moons and other heavenly bodies. The scenes were breathtaking, as each of the cameras having been placed to give the viewer the maximum effect of the awe-inspiring vistas.

                “These are not stills my friends, but cameras placed to give us a view of the greatest event the art community will ever witness.” He winked and with a chuckle finished, “At least until my next performance.” Obediently, the crowd laughed.

 Indeed, now that the screens had been up for several moments it was clear that they were live feeds. Objects drifted in and out of view as planets rotated. One planet even seemed to contain some sort of life, for creatures were seen scurrying on the surface far below, the camera must have been placed far up in the atmosphere. That struck me as curious. Were they performers? Scrambling to finish all the last minute preparations? Adonis, tell us more.

                “There are, placed at various places within this solar system, more than a million fixed cameras. Each placed to record every conceivable view of this spectacular moment. The cameras and this ship itself are all safely contained in null fields, taking us out of the normal flow of time and space, completely invulnerable to their touch.” Many people perked up at that statement. Null fields weren’t a new invention, having their origins back at the beginning of the new empire even as we expanded from the home world, but they weren’t used much and certainly not on the scale described. The engineering of that feat might warrant an article all on its own.

                “These cameras were placed during the last month as I prepared for this glorious event and the last was placed less than a week ago, as I released the final piece to my greatest production. And now,” Adonis pulled an ornate and old-fashioned pocket watch from his coat, and smiled at the time, “the time is growing near. Please, relax; enjoy yourselves and witness my newest and grandest piece, of a type I dub Chaos Art. I present to you Tragedy: In Blue.” With a bow, Adonis stepped back off the stage and the lights dimmed.

                Where he had been standing, light began to spiral upwards. A holographic sun appeared on the stage, recreated in perfect detail and in real time, it was the sun of the solar system. The screens around the room were still active as well, bathing the room in a dull phosphorescence and giving the crowd any number of views to choose from.

The one that caught my interest was of the planet that appeared to have life. The camera had zoomed in now, and there were indeed creatures on the planet. Not only were there creatures, but also buildings and machinery and all manner of civilized marvels. It was undoubtedly a sentient species shown there, albeit one that was very primitive, and not any sort of actors or stagehands. It was doubtful that the species even had any advanced space travel, something The Empire had been using for thousands of years. Though some of the screens in orbit around the planet showed artificial structures and junk outside the atmosphere.

Before too much more thought could be put into it, the central stage, and the sun, drew everyone’s attention once more. The view had shifted subtly, giving us the ability to see inside the star. Something strange was happening there, something that should not have been happening for some billions of years anyway. An object, sitting at the star’s core, undoubtedly in a null field to protect it, began to swell. The plasma around it reacted violently causing a chain reaction. Once again the view shifted to the outside, the better able to see what effect the internal changes were having on the star as a whole.

For several moments, the only difference was an increase in spots on the surface and then solar flares, like the graceful curves of a dancer reached out millions of miles. The star began to bloat. As it expanded its color darkened from bright yellow orange to more somber tones. It swallowed up the first of the inner planets, a barren rocky world, and many of the closer cameras, which were suddenly engulfed in a world of superheated plasma.

The effects were seen further out as well. Atmosphere streamed away from planets like the tails of a comet creating flickering tendrils of insubstantial gas. The large gas giants in the outer system began to deform as the increased solar winds pushed greater quantities of mass outwards. Many of the screens previously showing views that had been swallowed up by the still growing sun flickered and were replaced by more images of the inhabited planet.

The effects there were devastating. It seemed as if the world were on fire. Some of the newly switched cameras showed vast oceans of water boiling, clouds of steam rising up to fill the void left by the depleting gasses that had already been stripped away into space. Plants and buildings burned, animals of all kinds ran in panic, fear and pain. Many had already succumbed to the waves of heat that blanketed the surface and lay dying covered in heat blisters and burns that made their flesh raw and pink.

Now the sun was many times its original size, the hologram seemed to fill the room; many had backed all the way against the walls so that they could still see it. And the Blue, the Blue filled the room. Never before, and I venture, never again will I see such singular beauty as I beheld in the roiling blue plasma. Streaks shot off and curled back upon themselves like animals jumping up from some exotic fluid. It was difficult to imagine that such a beautiful thing held so much power and destruction.

A sudden flurry of motion drew me back to the inhabited planet. On the surface, nothing moved. Like a corpse on display, it showed all things it once held in life. Plants and animals remained only as burned husks. There was no movement, for there wasn’t even enough oxygen left for the fires to burn. The motion came from a camera set outside the now departed atmosphere and aimed at its lone moon. A single ship; small, crude and clumsy was racing away from death. Others in the crowded room had seen it also. Would it make it far enough away? Where could such a ship take it that would be safe? These questions in my mind were answered in a decisive whip of plasma, a pure blue flame that engulfed the planet and uncaringly flicked the ship into oblivion.

Now the planet was clean of all life, a barren chunk of rock and the star had stopped growing, neatly nestled between the former orbits of the second and third planets. The waves of destruction continued to ravage the outer planets for many minutes. The gas giants had shrunken to less than half their original size. Several of the screens showed the plumes of gas ejected from their atmospheres rocketing outward into the void of interstellar space. Among the gas in some places were small moons and an abundance of small asteroids and miscellaneous matter. It seemed as if all creation was exiting stage left.

On the platform, Adonis the Magnificent was now standing in the center of the hologram of the sun. From the center of the star, like a demon surveying his hellish home, Adonis looked outwards, studying the crowd, taking in their reactions. For the entire presentation, no one had uttered more than a few surprised gasps. He waited for their reaction to what they had seen. It remained silent a few moments, and then, like the first few drops of a monsoon, applause came rolling in, until the entire audience was clapping with all the enthusiasm they could muster. It had been so beautiful. I clapped too.